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The Examination Culture in Imperial China

Author: Liu Haifeng

Main Translator: Yu Weihua

ISBN: 978-1-84464-482-7

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-84464-483-4

Hardback-320 Pages

January 2018


£85 €105 $135



This book studies the Chinese imperial examination from the following different perspectives. The first part opens with the centurial anniversary of the abolition of the examination system. The first chapter of this book serves to redress the injustice done to the imperial examination system and restore its historical truth on this very special occasion. The second part discusses the inception of the imperial examination. It concentrates on the research of the start of the imperial examination in Sui and Tang dynasty. Sui and Tang Dynasty opened up the era of imperial examination system in Chinese history with Tang Dynasty as the inception of the system influencing the contents and organization of examinations and other examination tradition in Song. From Tang Dynasty, imperial examination hall named Ke Chan came into being, serving as a vital arena for social political activities and humanistic educational activities. From then on, imperial examination occupies a decisive part in traditional Chinese social structure. As the inceptive and developing stage, the system in Tang dynasty showed great originality and vitality, diversity and volatility, thus becoming an era worth researching. The achievements and defects of imperial examination system constitute the third part of the book. Imperial examination is the literary civil service exam in ancient China, yet it embodied properties of educational exams. It was the focus at the time and unable to be separated from ancient Chinese education. This chapter mainly probes into the achievements and defects of the imperial examination system, relationship between the system and ancient academy, the self-study nature of the system, the intelligence test and degree examination nature of the system. The fourth part of the book inquiries into the influence of imperial examination culture. Cultural tradition and traditional culture are two eternal themes of academic researches. As an essential part of traditional Chinese culture, imperial examination and its culture are indispensable parts of culture research, for it reflects the main characteristics of the entire late Chinese imperialism. This chapter discusses the influence of imperial examination system on Chinese culture, the remnants of the system in modern China, with a focus on the system’s spread to western and eastern countries. In addition, the details of theories of the formation of east Asian imperial examination cultural circle, and the system’s spread to western countries constitute another part of the discussion. Chinese Cultural Studies is now gaining popularity in Western society. This book is an authoritative, thorough, complete and comprehensive study of Chinese Imperial Examination system. It is an essential resource to understand Chinese culture, especially ancient China’s examination system.




Chapter 1 Centurial Anniversary of Abolition of the Imperial Examination System

1.1 Centurial Anniversary of Abolition of the Imperial Examination System

1.2 Rehabilitating the Imperial Examination System

1.3 Reevaluating the Imperial Examination System

1.4 Ending the Era of Blind Criticism of the Imperial Examination System

1.5 Clearing the Name for the Imperial Examination System

1.6 Abolition of the Imperial Examination System and Cultural Conflicts

Chapter 2 Gains and Losses of Imperial Examinations

2.1 Relationship between Ancient Chinese Academy and Imperial Examination

2.2 Double-edged Sword: Merits and Demerits of Imperial Examinations

2.3 The Development Laws of Imperial Examinations

2.4 Selection of Able Men and True Talents

2.5 The Nature of Imperial Examinations as Intelligence Tests

2.6 The Acceptance of Imperial Degrees

Chapter 3 Influence of the Imperial Examination System

3.1 The Influence of the Imperial Examination System on Chinese Culture

3.2 Imperial Examination Literature and Study of Imperial Examination

3.3 The Cultural Circle of Imperial Examination in East Asia

3.4 The Influence of the Chinese Imperial Examination System on Japan, Korea and Vietnam

3.5 The Influence of Imperial Examination System on Western Examination System

3.6 Imperial Examination—China’s Fifth Great Invention

Chapter 4 Formation of Imperial Examination Study

4.1 Historical Development of the Implication of Imperial Examination Study

4.2 Study of Imperial Examination—A Notable Discipline in the 21st Century

4.3 Study of Imperial Examination—an Ancient but Brand-new Discipline

4.4 Study of Imperial Examination and Educational Examination Reform

4.5 Literature and Study of Imperial Examination

4.6 “Policy Study” and Study of Imperial Examination



About the Author:

Liu Haifeng, born in Fujian Province of China, was admitted as a BA into Department of History, Xiamen University in 1977. Upon his completion of his postgraduate study, he started his work in the Institute of Higher Education, Xiamen University. He finished his part-time PhD program in 1988, and became a Professor in 1992 and PhD supervisor in 1994. In 2000, he was appointed Director of Higher Educational Development Research Center in Xiamen University (Humanities and Social Science Research Base of the Ministry of Education). He is currently Dean of Xiamen University Institute of Education Research, Director of Educational Research Center for Educational Assessment as well as a member of National Education Consultative/Advisory Committee and Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council. He has already published 19 books among which are Study Of Imperial Examination, Reform of College Entrance Examination System in China, Educational Perspective of Imperial Examination, Imperial Examination System and the Study of Imperial Examination, and History of Chinese Imperial Examination. Besides, over 200 theses have been published by the author on magazines like Social Science in China, Historical Research and Education Research. He has won 6 ministry level and provincial research awards which include the first prize Award for Research Achievements in Humanities and Social Science by the Education Ministry. In 2005, he was nominated by Sina as one of “ Chinese Cultural Figures of the Year.”

About the main translator Weihua, Yu, born in Hubei Province of China, was admitted as a BA into Department of English, Wuhan University in 1979. Upon his completion of postgraduate study, he started his teaching in Wuhan University. He received his doctorate at University of Durham in 2001 and his areas of interest are Applied Linguistics (Language Teaching) and Intercultural Studies in Foreign Language Education. He is currently dean and professor of College of English, Zhejiang Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages, vice-chairman of Zhejiang Provincial Translation Association, a standing director of CALE (China Association of Language Education). He has already published more than 20 books and textbooks among which are Contexts and approaches in foreign language education(2015), Challenges and Beyond: Professional Development for Young College EFL Teachers(2012), Contextual Analysis of Teaching English in China’s Higher Education (2010). Besides, he has published over 40 articles on journals like the Modern Language Journal, Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, Foreign Language Teaching and Research(China), Modern Foreign Languages(China), Journal of Foreign Languages(China). He has won both Hangzhou and Shaoxing Municipal Philosophical and Social Sciences outstanding achievement awards.

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